Influencer marketing is on the rise globally and for good reasons. Between the launch of the GDPR adding customer communication barriers and nearly 90% of consumers trusting online peer reviews more than traditional advertising, it’s no wonder marketers are looking at external influencers for a direct line to customers.
However, for those in the PR industry, influencer marketing isn’t necessarily a new concept. Working with influencers has been in every comms professionals ‘tool kit’ for decades but with the rise of technology and social media, the game has changed.
On the 12th of September, The Work Crowd and PRCA held a masterclass on Influencer Marketing with industry experts, featuring:
- Sam Brown: Independent Creative Director with over 15 years experience in fashion, beauty, entertainment and big brands. She has lead a diverse portfolio of influencer campaigns, from recruiting music stars on anti-knife crime campaigns for the Home Office, through to A-list celebrities for beauty brands, and Prince William for Centrepoint charity.
- Andy Turner: After co-founding, running and growing a successful B2B PR agency, for the last 20 years Andy has worked independently as a freelance PR consultant to senior management. He will unpick the excitement surrounding influencer marketing, offering some thoughts to help you make informed judgements about if you should recommend it, why and when.
- Jamie Barrett: As Weber Shandwick’s Account Director of Influence, Jamie is the agency’s senior counsel on all things influencer marketing. Prior to Shandwick, her career in communications has taken her from the agency that pioneered the industry in New Zealand to running her own digital platforms, so she is able to offer an interesting insight into the world of influencers from both sides of the relationship.
In case you missed it, read on for highlights from the panel:
On the evolution of Influencer
‘Is Influencer Marketing really so shiny and new? I’m not so sure. PR has always been about creating value through third-party endorsement or advocacy.
It’s also always been about establishing and building mutually-beneficial relationships. I think Influencer Marketing is arguably a new, fashionable term for what’s been happening for a very long time. Except for one thing: there’s now a lot of money and legal contracts changing hands. What’s also new, is the way digital media and social media have introduced new types of influencers.’ – Andy
“Influencer marketing isn’t new – it’s a evolution of everything that we have been doing for decades. Previously, we were working with brand ambassadors, or getting celebs to use and wear our products. The only ‘new bit’ are digital partners, which is what we now commonly call ‘Influencer Marketing” -Sam
‘Influencer marketing is nothing new but today’s ‘definition; of it is. Influence used to refer to a powerful result – what happened when someone had the ability to sway an opinion or a decision. Now ‘influence’ has become synonymous with someone who has a large following on social media. We need to revert back to the old way of thinking.’ – Jamie
‘Take Cate Blanchett for example, she was our ‘face’ of luxury skincare line SK-II. Before she was recruited, she was a user and lover of the brand. When she spoke about SK-II, it was true, when she said I use this, it was real, when she said it work, it really did.Yes, Cate was a great opportunity to create great content, but she shone through because everything was authentic. She was more than a spokesperson, she was a partner.” – Sam
‘In Australia this year, the use of using social media influencers from federal government campaigns was banned, stating influencers do not represent value for money or authenticity. When we work with influencers, it’s crucial to think about why and when we work for influencers and whether this represents our values and goals.’ – Andy
‘There’s a very big ‘but’ too often overlooked, the difference between content creation and influence. We shouldn’t just be working with influencers who take and create beautiful photos. Sometimes it’s those people whose photos are raw, real, and quite honestly look ‘amateur’ that have the most power over an audience because they’re relatable and authentic. Just like a book, be careful not to judge an influencer by their latest Instagram picture’ – Jamie’
‘Paying for a one-off post is of no value to anyone – the influencer, their audience or your brand. Influencer marketing should be like a marriage. Once you’ve identified the right influencer to work with, you need to treat them like they’re the one, not just a one-night stand. Work on the relationship, invest in making it a true partnership and you’ll get back what you put in and more.’ – Jamie
‘You need to ask yourself, does this influencer relationship make genuine sense for not only our client, but the influencer and our audience.’ – Andy
“One of the traditional ways that we have used celebs in the past is Celebrity Seeding, aka Product Placement. We used to gift products to celebs in the mere hope that they would be shot by the paps on the way to an event. But now, through good relationships with our influencers, we can turn this into guaranteed coverage. Through relationships, we can ensure that the gift delivery will be Snapchatted, the outfit will be #OOTD on Instagram, and then the brand will be thanked in stories. Everything is trackable. -Sam
‘All in all, success in influencer marketing hangs off three principles, authenticity, collaboration and relationships. Get this right and you’re onto a winner.’- Sam
On the types of influencers:
Sam talked about the power of the ‘ trickle-down effect’ of the right influence marketing campaign to engage your customers when you work a broad range of influencers:
‘there was a party hosted for the A-list celebrities, then a mirror event for the mid-market influencers, with around 5-10 thousand followers. Having seen photos from the first party, they shared many similar photos ensuring the same brand message spread through social feeds. The grassroot fans then saw these and copied and shared…Monkey see, monkey do! By looking after all of the levels above your grassroots, you can ensure that the message will drip right the way through. ”
‘We’re now seeing the emergence of artificial influencers. These are characters that look amazingly real but who in reality don’t exist! Shadu Gram is billed as ‘the world’s first digital supermodel’ and already has 147,000 Instagram followers.’
‘Influencer marketing isn’t, and shouldn’t be, about finding ‘influencers’ to promote your brand. It’s about identifying the influential. Those that have genuine influence over people’s perceptions, behaviours and decisions, not just those who have lots of followers. Sometimes the most influential people for your brand won’t even have a social presence.’- Jamie
Questions to ask ourselves:
‘Onalytica has reported that the spectrum of dishonesty and ‘fakery’ in the influencer marketing industry is vast. There is a community of influencers, buying engagements and using automated systems. Therefore, we need to consider the risks, whether they are appropriate to the rewards and how do we mitigate them.’ – Andy
‘We need to stop focusing on reach and instead focus on relevance. Having a million followers or gaining a million impressions means nothing if they’re not the right audience. We should always look beyond the numbers and ask yourselves – how truly relevant is this influencer to our target market?’ – Jamie
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